What is Rye?

Have you ever wondered what is rye or how it comes to be in the foods we eat? Rye, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a resilient grass grown to nourish soil and prevent weeds, otherwise referred to as a cover crop, and is also harvested for grain. It is important because of its numerous nutrition and health benefits as well as multiple uses in cooking.

If you are like most people, you probably are not asking what is rye because it’s fairly common knowledge that it is a grain; however, you might be curious as to how this grain gets into your food.

Rye is a grain that is readily available as a whole or in cracked form, has a yellowish-brown or grayish-green color, and is often refined to flour or flakes. The flour is used to make bread and the flakes can be used to make oatmeal or porridge. Normally, when you hear the word refined, you think processed and then you think it’s not healthy.

When rye is refined, it’s not broken down and taken apart, like with other grains. Instead, the grain is kept whole because it is too difficult to separate into parts, which means the nutrients remain and the health benefits are high.

What is Rye and the Health Benefits of Rye


You may not wonder exactly what is rye but you may wonder about different ways to promote your health. The consumption of rye has a positive impact on a person’s digestive and heart health but is most effective in combating diabetes. Research has proven that those who eat whole grains on a regular basis reduce their risk of Type II diabetes due to the high magnesium content, which alone reduces the risk but when combined with whole grains, the risk of diabetes is decreased by nearly double the percent of magnesium alone.

Rye bread has also been proven to be a better choice than wheat bread for diabetics because wheat causes an insulin reaction. In other words, insulin levels are lower in people who eat rye and higher in individuals that consume wheat because the rye grain slows the process of starch digestion and conversion into sugar.


For a more complete definition of what is rye you might want to add the word “phytonutrient” to the grains many properties. Without getting into scientific details, this simply means that rye is one of, if not the best, source of antioxidants, more so than fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help the body to prevent and fight cancer and strengthen the immune system so by consuming foods high in antioxidants, people reduce their risk of cancer.

Since rye is very high in fiber and aids in digestive health, it is best at lowering the risk of colon cancer although the fact that it is kept whole could be the reason behind its powerful potential to fight cancer.


If you enjoy this particular grain, many rye recipes are available in cookbooks and on the internet. A German rye bread recipe calls for few ingredients and is simple to make as all you need is:

  • Three and a quarter cups of rye flour
  • Two and a half cups of bread flour
  • Two .25 ounce packages of active dry yeast
  • A half a cup of warm water
  • One and a half cups of warm milk
  • Two tablespoons of sugar
  • A teaspoon of salt
  • A half a cup of molasses
  • Two tablespoons of butter

First you must preheat the oven to 375° Fahrenheit and allow the yeast to dissolve in the warm water. Next, put the sugar, salt, and milk in a large bowl and mix it together before adding the butter, yeast mixture, molasses, and a cup of the rye flour. Use a mixer to beat all of these ingredients together and then add the remaining rye flour, mixing it in with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the white flour until the dough is stiff enough to knead. Knead the dough for about five to ten minutes, cover it, and let it rise until it doubles in size, which is about an hour to an hour and a half. When the dough is ready, punch it down, divide it into two round loaves, and let them rise until they double. Put them in the preheated oven, bake them for 30 to 35 minutes, and when they are done, you can see exactly what is rye.


  • 1 Cup all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup rye flour
  • 3 ½ Teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Slightly beaten egg
  • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons melted shortening

Sift flour, measure; sift rye flour, measure.
Combine both flours; add baking powder and salt and sift again.
Combine egg, corn syrup, milk and melted shortening; pour into flour mixture.
Stir just enough to moisten dry ingredients; do not beat.
Fill paper lined muffin tins 2/3 full; bake in preheated oven at 400 F degrees.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes for medium size muffins or 20 to 25 minutes for large.


This is one of the great recipes to make when you know what is rye?

  • 1 Cup boiling water
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Package dry yeast
  • 2 Cups all purpose flour
  • 2 Cups rye flour
  • 2 Beaten egg whites

Combine boiling water, sugar, shortening and salt; cool to lukewarm.
Soften yeast in some of the cooled water moisture; stir and combine with remaining water mixture.
Add 1 cup of the all purpose flour to yeast mixture; beat until smooth.
Add beaten egg whites with caraway seeds to the yeast mixture; beat thoroughly.
Combine the other cup of all purpose flour with the rye flour.
Add enough of the blended flour to yeast mixture to make soft dough.
Turn dough out on floured surface and knead about 10 minutes or until smooth and satiny.
Place dough in warm greased bowl; cover and set in warm place to rise until double.
Punch dough down and fold into ball; cover and let rise about 45 minutes until double.
Punch down and divide into about 2 2 to 24 balls; cover and let rest 10 minutes.
Shape into rolls and place on greased baking sheets 2 inches apart; cover and let rise until doubled.
Bake at 450F degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
Add 2 tablespoons caraway seeds to beaten egg whites


What is rye in pudding bread? It gives it a slightly different flavor and texture.

  • 2 Cups rye bread 1 inch cubes
  • 1 ½ Cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 Cup milk
  • ½ Cup finely sliced green onions (Both green and white parts)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Egg whites
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 Teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350F degrees; grease 1 ½ to 2 quart baking dish.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish; cover and place baking dish in a larger baking pan.

Add enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the pudding dish.

Bake for 45 minutes; UNCOVER and bake 30 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Serve warm; serves 4.

› Rye

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